20th Anniversary of Shona Joy, Interview With Australian Fashion Designer

shona joy

I am obsessed with Australia Fashion. The best online purchases I have made have been at through Australian websites. My newest favorite brand is Shona Joy.

Australian designer, Shona Joy was suppose to be celebrating the brand’s 20th anniversary this year. However, due to the current global pandemic (COVID-19) the anniversary is being “celebrated” a bit differently. By celebrated, I mean more reflected upon. A 20th anniversary for a brand should be a typical celebration, not a year of watching your brand become so vulnerable. Since the breakout of COVID-19 Shona Joy had dealt with millions of dollars worth of canceled orders from retailers, cancellation notices for forward orders, large immediate orders rejected in transit and overall uncertainty of how to move forward.

However, there is a silver lining, there always is. Fashion is a fast paced environment, that is consistently evolving. Those who are strong enough to adapt to the changes are the ones who survive. Shona Joy is one of the “strong ones.” Shona Joy’s small team in Sydney has been working day and night to help the brand survive another year which will lead to only a bigger celebration come the brand’s 21st! They have been striving to create a more sustainable brand, expand their wedding and resort edit; and to use this time to really listen to their customer’s feedback. I was able to chat with Shona Joy and discuss how the brand is adapting, sustainability, life for the fashion industry following the global pandemic and her own personal style.

Shona Joy Thatcher Headshot

AD: How did you get started in the fashion industry?

SJ: I started the business in 2000 with market stalls at Bondi Beach and Paddington. Back then many Australian designers were carving their way and using the markets as a platform to test their aesthetic. Very quickly, I couldn’t keep up the demand.

AD: How did you launch your first collection 20 years ago? What was the process that went into this?

SJ: I got my first ‘big break’ at Belinda Seper’s ‘Corner Shop’ in Sydney, launching a capsule collection of handprinted tees – Christy Turlington actually ended up buying one in every colour! The collection continued to evolve and while we’re still known for our signature prints, the brand has become most renowned for ’the dress’ that deserves a place in your wardrobe, that transcends any season, occasion, day or evening and that looks just as glamorous in heels or bare feet.

AD: Where do you find inspiration for your line?

SJ: I began collecting classic pieces at vintage stores and hunting for treasures at markets – I continue to be inspired by pieces of the past. Strictly speaking our collections don’t generally follow the trends of a season, but remain true to our aesthetic. Our brand embodies a neutral colour palette with natural fabrications that signify our clear Australian identity.

AD: What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a designer?

SJ: In the 20 years of the brand, we’ve encountered huge challenges (including the GFC), however nothing compares to the uncertainty we’re facing today. Our current situation has been a game changer. It’s challenging on all levels of our business – from online, retail, supply chain and design. We are approaching new unknown territory so we are taking a cautious approach to ensure the longevity of our brand. Sadly this means a portion of next 3 collections (which we invested so much time into designing) will not make the cut, as the size of our ranges will inevitably become smaller whilst the retail sector is going through a downturn.

AD: Do you feel COVID-19 is going to impact and change the fashion industry long term? If so in what ways? Do you feel the industry can overcome this global pandemic? If so, how?

SJ: The impact of this global pandemic has been so far-reaching. The fashion industry (as with all sectors) have been forced to adapt quickly to survive the immediate threats, and will need to continue to evolve as customer buying behaviours continue to shift. As an industry with longer lead-times, the task of predicting the future is a huge challenge – the uncertainty of the current situation and the issue of planning for the future are our biggest challenges as an industry.

SJ: We continue to listen to our customer and evolve our product offering to ensure we’re giving her exactly what she’s after. For us, e-commerce and social media have become more and more important for our customer, who is constantly connected and always looking for newness. We’ve also seen our customers becoming more thoughtful in their purchase decisions with an increased interest in the production process of their garments – we’re so happy to see our customers become more interested in learning about where their clothes come from and putting care into making sustainable and ethical purchase decisions.

SJ: I definitely think the industry can overcome this, however we will need to make big changes to how we design, market and share our garments – I don’t think the fashion industry will ever be the same as it was before the global pandemic.

shona joy dress
AD: What has been your favorite line you’ve designed over the last 20 years?

SJ: Each range has allowed us to tell a different story, however I’m incredibly proud of our upcoming collections – Voyeur and Belvedere. Both had huge growth at a wholesale level, though unfortunately due to the global pandemic, have had significant cancellations. I am also immensely proud of our growing Wedding Edit, particularly our latest collection – La Lune, which is designed for the true fashion girl, catering for for today’s modern bride who is looking for an effortless approach to bridal.

AD: How would you describe your personal style?

SJ: My personal style is reflective of my lifestyle living in Bondi. I would describe it as natural, effortless and eternally classic.

AD: Three wardrobe styles everyone must have in their closet?

SJ: Vintage denim, a great poplin shirt and a volumous voile dress that you can dress up or down.

You can shop Shona Joy through the e-commerce site or on Revolve, InterMix and Neiman Marcus.

shona joy instagram


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